President Trump on Friday reversed the government’s decision to start allowing hunters to import trophies of elephants that were killed in Zambia and Zimbabwe, pending a further review.

His evening Twitter message reversed a decision by his own administration over Zimbabwe that was announced this week and promoted as recently as Friday afternoon by the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service had signaled its intention to end the 2014 ban, citing Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts. On Thursday, the service announced on its website that it would begin issuing permits to allow the import of elephants hunted from 2016 to 2018, with two trophies allowed per import.

Nearly two weeks ago, the department also waived the ban in a similar manner for Zambia.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have had mixed success in recent years maintaining or increasing their elephant population, according to the Great Elephant Census, a project financed by Paul G. Allen, a founder of Microsoft. The project also found that the African elephant population shrunk nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2014.

It is unclear why Mr. Trump reversed the decision, but the announcement faced backlash from both conservatives and liberals. Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host, said Thursday on Twitter that she did not understand how the decision would not “INCREASE the gruesome poaching of elephants,” while the comedian Ellen DeGeneres started an online campaign, using the hashtag #BeKindToElephants, to raise funds for elephant conservation efforts.

On social media, photos were being shared of Mr. Trump’s two elder sons hunting on safari in Zimbabwe, including one photo that showed Donald Trump Jr. with a severed elephant tail in one hand and a knife in the other.

The White House argued that the hunting would bring money to local communities and incentivize efforts to protect elephants. In defending the decision on Friday, Ms. Sanders cited a recently completed Park Service review that had begun during the Obama administration.

“This review established that both Zambia and Zimbabwe had met new standards, strict international conservation standards that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries,” she told reporters during a news briefing.

Under President Barack Obama, the practice had been banned because of a lack of data on conservation efforts in Zimbabwe.

Safari Club International, a trophy-hunting organization that sued the Obama administration in 2014 in an effort to challenge the ban and was the first to report the policy change on Tuesday, lashed out against the news media and “anti-hunters” for swaying the Trump administration to lift the trophy ban.

“The fight for the freedom to hunt is far from over,” Paul Babaz, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “We will be more proactive and not back down.”

But environmental groups applauded the reversal on Friday and called for more restrictions on trophy hunting, which has faced increased scrutiny, especially after an American dentist killed Cecil, a lion beloved in Zimbabwe, in 2015.

“It’s great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, “but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions.”

Ms. Sanders also confirmed Friday that a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory enforced during the Obama administration would remain in place.

Source:New York times

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Why is the government mute? We all know killing our animals for sports does not benefit the local communities, perhaps it lines the pockets of a few politicians but certainly not the people.Are we to know the fate of our wildlife from Trump or does our government have a say?

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    • Lindiwe, you don’t know what you are talking about.

      The funds generated by international hunters coming to Zambia and Zimbabwe in search for trophy animals is the only thing keeping the poachers away.

      The main issue here is corruption.

      Of the massive amount of money that this industry generates, none, I’ll say it again “NONE” goes back into the communities for conservation and development.

      The ZAWA guards don’t even have vehicles or food to be able to effect antipoaching. Yet the industry generates way more than required for such.

      Now is that the industries fault or the highly corrupt governments fault?

      You tell me.

      Our government is a shame.

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    • @uncommon sense did you actually read my comment? You and I agree that the money generated from the industry does not benefit communities. So I’m not sure how we should argue since we are on the same team? Chizungu perhaps? Semantics? We said the same thing using different words.

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  2. Yes ba LT, this was news on Friday……not today.
    In fact, you should have also included outcry from WE, Zambians, the reasonable Zambians on this forum also protested against that uncalled for decision to weaver the ban.

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  3. Do these elephants belong to Trump or Zambia? Why should we decimate our wild life just because some orange head says so? Or does it mean the Trump decision is tied to USA Aid to Zambia?

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    • Again, you, as lindiwe, do not understand the underlying principles.

      Where will the government fund antipoaching from if it weren’t for trophy hunting?

      Without a good plan to enable ZAWA to do its job, the poachers run wild doing what they want.

      Where does the 60% tax on all GMAs go to?

      Nice Mercedes Benzs and mansions.

      Corruption is the problem.

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  4. Strangers from far away lands debating how they will share your katundu while you are quiet..Can it get any stranger? Strange indeed.. Could it be an issue of color?? Why stiganiza?

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  5. Uncommon Sense you comment about funds keeping poachers away is not true. Trophy Hunters are the reason for poachers. The elite in the West auction Zambia’s wildlife abroad offering 3 for 1 deals. $300,000 to hunt an elephant but throw in a buffalo and a lion. That revenue remains in the USA by organizations called Dallas Safari Club or Safari Club International. The same organization that auctioned off a Rhino in South Africa for $150,000. Maybe this will shed light why tourism in Zambia does not work because like mining, the rich have found a way to exploit Africa. There are over 6,000 organisations in the West that own hunting business and all prey off Africa’s wildlife. The ZAWA people have this information including Lungu but choose not to do anything,

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    • From the revenue that actually sits into government coffers, you tell me where that revenue has gone and how it has enacted anti poaching.

      When you can do that I will agree with your point.

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  6. My background is a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management (honours). Trophy hunters coming to Zambia deplete our natural resources and money does not stay nor benefit our economy. There are over 6,000 hunting organizations in North America and all those want a piece of the pie of our wildlife. They know there is money is to be made in Africa. Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club International to BigGame is one organization with elite members. Transactions for sale of our wildlife occurs in the US not in Zambia. It creates jobs for the US and benefits their economy not ours. When trophy hunters arrive in Zambia, accommodation, food and beverage, leisure is already paid for and stay at Lodges belonging to these organizations partaking in this sport for the rich. They don’t stay at Zambian…

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  7. They don’t stay at Zambian owned lodges and help them out by give them tourism revenue. “LEAKAGE” is a tourism term when money does not stay in the economy. This is what those organizations are all about and wants us to think they are helping us, when they are helping themselves. Imagine, we can’t even pay our game rangers in over 9 months. As for poaching, it is a social issue due to our governments and poverty is the cause. People have nothing and will risk killing a buffalo and going to jail to feed families. Zambian’s do not kill for sport or trophies. Very important we understand this. Trophy hunters will tell us killing is conservation. I say Game Cropping is conservation and a huge difference, yet they try to feed us garbage.

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